As a small business, you might not think you have a lot of options when it comes to doing a good turn for the environment. Or more to the point, you might not think you have the budget to make changes that reflect your eco-friendly sensibilities. But this is hardly the case. For example, it costs you nothing to set up a recycling program, and you actually stand to gain in the process, although it will probably only amount to a few bucks every time you head to the recycling center with a load of bottles and cans to turn in. But you can also practice energy and water conservation, you can find ways to go paperless around the office, and you can perform regular assessments to find areas of waste that could be better managed, saving money and the environment simultaneously. Of course, you might be baffled as to how to go green in areas like shipping, which can hardly be avoided. So here are a few eco-friendly packing and shipping options for your small business.
- Recycled packaging. Using packaging made from recycled materials, whether they are paper, plastic, or other, is probably one of the most eco-friendly steps you can take when it comes to getting your products into the hands of consumers. Not only does this break the linear chain of consumer goods by diverting trash from the landfills and finding another use for it, but it also ensures that less raw materials and manufacturing are needed in the process. So it’s an environmental win on two fronts. And if the materials were recycled once, there’s a good chance they can be recycled again. You could even offer incentives for customers to return the packaging to you for reuse.
- Sustainable packaging. Whether you’re interested in paper products made from wood pulp that comes from sustainable tree farms or you want plastics made from corn, you might be surprised to discover that there are several packaging companies offering the eco-friendly products you crave. And most offer competitive pricing when compared to the usual fare.
- Biodegradable packaging. If you can’t manage to make your packaging green on the front end by using recycled or sustainable materials, at least make sure it’s doing less harm down the line by choosing something that will quickly and safely break down rather than languishing in a landfill. You might even want to choose materials that are compostable, like those made from plant matter.
- Don’t offer overnight shipping. Any time you offer next day delivery you’re ensuring that the maximum amount of fuel will be used to get a package from point A to point B, polluting the air (and indirectly the water and land) with harmful hydrocarbons. So take this option off the table if you want your small business to operate in a green fashion on every front.
- Ship smart. Whether you opt to order packaging from a company that offers recycled products or you go with a supplier like Royco Packaging Inc. that is 100% solar powered, you’re taking a step in the right direction for the protection of our planet. But unless you make smart choices when you ship, you’ll undo your hard work in other areas. So choose ground shipping whenever possible and group shipments together if you can. And if you have large orders for retail, you might want to find a freight business that uses biodiesel (or other alternative fuel) rigs. Every little bit makes a difference.